When we had the opportunity to interview Newcastle’s own special brand of ethereal psychedelia in the form of Symphonic Pictures we jumped at the chance. After hearing great tracks like the melodic and at points eerie sound of Feathers to the noise fest of Backwoods we know already this band will be greeted by most music fans’ ears. With the band being splashed across papers and blogs alike and with their self-titled EP due for release today, our girl Helen Kelly sat down with the Geordie boys and talked gigs, art and 70’s psyche.
Newcastle based band Symphonic Pictures began with Dale and Johnny in the most creative of places; college. How did you decide to form a band together?
Johnny: We were on a music course at the time and we weren’t really getting what we wanted out of the course, it wasn’t what we thought it would be. So we sort of took it upon ourselves to put ourselves in our own band with friends we met at college.
Dale: We got a lot out of it in that sense, the social aspect of meeting everyone that was good. But the course, like Johnny said we weren’t really getting anything out of it.
Johnny: Yeah and around second year we started hanging around a recording studio called The Garage and picked up an interest in music production. Then we just started doing our own demos, individually at first and then together and then the whole band came together to form this.
There’s no arguing that the band have their own very distinct sound. So much so that even they find it difficult to label.
Dale: I always go for psychedelic pop, it’s a hard one to answer.
Johnny: It’s not nice describing our music because you don’t want to limit it but it is melodic pyschedelia.
Like most organic bands, Symphonic Pictures revealed that they didn’t really plan out how they would sound.
Johnny: I think if there was any sound of the band it was from not trying to do anything too much, it sort of just came naturally really.
How would the band describe the creative process in terms of their influences and transferring that into making an actual record?
Johnny: In terms of what we listen to, we do listen to a lot of 60s, 70s psychedelia music and krautrock. All of the sounds and records that we love influence the way we play our music as opposed to what we write. So the songs essentially are the pop element of what it is but they are played in that style. I mean some of the references we’ve had in reviews, to us we don’t understand them because the songs that we set out to write it never enters our mind to ‘sound like them’.
Dale: I do quite like the references. I just can’t understand where people have got it from.
Johnny: I think that comes from the way we play our own songs, like the noisy element and the psychedelic element
Dale: I wouldn’t even know whether to describe us as a guitar heavy band or a synth heavy band, it’s just everything.
What about writing the songs? Is it a collective process?
Dale: More and more the writing process has got more into the rehearsal room and everyone sort of starts doing bits but usually it starts with what me and Johnny bring to the room.
Johnny: Yeah it differs every time. Sometimes it’s a track we work on together or sometimes it’s individually and I think you can hear the difference.
The band’s first EP is due for release today, what can fans going to the launch at The Cluny in Newcastle expect to see?
Dale: They can expect a big show with Let’s Buy Happiness and Them Things supporting. We’re getting a light show. You know everything we can to make it special. We’re going to be playing quite a long set.
Johnny: It’s strange because the EP took so long, from the idea of putting one out to it being released has been a lot longer than we would have liked for numerous reasons. So, now when we actually come to the launch gig there’s going to be five or six songs that people won’t have heard.
Dale: We’re actually using the money we make from this to go straight into the studio this month with Mick Ross so that’s really exciting.
Johnny: The whole thing is really exciting, just finally having it out and feeling like we’ve sort of landed as a band because we’ve gigged and done small tours and things but not had a record out. So now there is something there if people want it.
Off the topic of music, the artwork is pretty cool. How did you decide on that? Was it to reflect the music in anyway?
Johnny: The initial idea was to hide behind it. It was a duo when we started out and then we were a three piece for a little while but with us starting as a duo, there is two characters and the idea was to hide behind it and the band was these animated characters. If we had a bit more money we would have played upon it more in the video.
Dale: I think for the first two years we didn’t upload a single photo of us or anything like that. We did hide behind it.
Johnny: It was only really when we started putting the band together in a sort of standard format with an actual drummer and brass players that we put band photographs up.
Now the band are quickly gaining more fans and they’re about to release the first EP where would you hope to be in a year’s time?
Dale: I don’t know but we’ve selected the four songs for the next EP. There is a definite change in the songs from this EP to the next one. I really like the idea of every release evolving from the last and never releasing something that sounds the same twice
Johnny: A lot of it is written as well so it’s sort of staggering things and not wanting to miss out tracks that are good songs, like not getting too caught up in writing new stuff and forgetting old songs. I think the goal really is to get as much recording equipment of our own so that we can always make records and we don’t have to rely on the use of other people’s studios. We’d like to have our own studio as soon as possible.
Does the band want to tour more and get onto a festival line up?
Dale: Well, this year because of the date that we are releasing the EP, we’ve not struggled to get festivals because we’ve not really tried but we just knew we didn’t have much of a chance without putting something out
Johnny: We are still doing local gigs though
Dale: I think next year we will be going further afield though and doing bigger things
Be sure to grab their self-titled out today. But, if you can’t wait, you can find Symphonic Pictures on all the usual channels;
By Helen Kelly